What We Can Learn From Kathy Griffin
Say what you will… She’s sometimes abrasive, sometimes obscene, and sometimes downright mean, but comedienne Kathy Griffin has made a well-above-D list entertainment career out of billing herself as stuck on the D-list. But what does Kathy Griffith have to teach us about being successful in entertainment?
As luck would have it, not only do we have articles about Kathy and interviews with her, not to mention her book and many DVDs, we can actually watch her in “real life” (as much as reality TV is “real life”). As regular readers of YII know, we believe there’s always plenty to learn by tuning in to reality TV.
Here are six lessons from Kathy’s career we can take with us on our own journeys:
1. She remained true to herself. Watching Kathy on her Bravo TV show, “Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List,” interacting with her family and friends, her staff, her publishers, her fans, and the public at large, you can see her act is no act. She really is obsessed with celebrities (the more troubled the better), defensive at times, potty-mouthed, and deeply devoted to the gay men at the core of her fan base (not to mention the ones she is actually friends with). How can your career be a reflection of your true self?
2. She found her people. Speaking of gay men… Before the rest of the world discovered her, gay men were showing up at Kathy’s gigs. Loyal followers are hard to come by when you are a struggling comedienne so she recognized them, as a niche audience and as kindred spirits, and sought out opportunities to perform for them. Her audience has grown enormously both inside and outside the gay community, but she will always appreciate them filling the seats at her gigs and keeping food on her table in the early years. Where are your people?
3. She networked well. Kathy wants to meet everyone who she can learn from and who can help her advance her career. And she is not afraid to reach out. She knows that paying a sincere compliment is a good way to start and asking people for the secrets of their success, being humble and a good listener, is the key to getting good information out of a busy professional. Who have you reached out to lately?
4. She worked smart (not to mention hard). Whenever Kathy has a new challenge, whether it is performing in front of a different audience than her usual crowd (the military, the Apollo Theater crowd) or breaking into a new area (publishing), she goes on a research mission, talking to whoever she can who might give her insight she can use (her own industry insiders, if you will). Whose wisdom can you tap for your next step?
5. She failed. Oh, Kathy. She’s been kicked off more talk shows than most celebrities have appeared on. She’s bombed in front of 1000s of people. She was booed off the stage at the Apollo Theater. And yet…
6. She never gave up. In any entertainment career (in any career period), there will always be moments of failure and even some periods when it seems like nothing is going right. But then you vow to fight another day, strategize, redouble your efforts, try yet again for success.
And like Kathy, if you stay true to yourself and find your people and network and work smart and never give up, you may just find yourself graduating from the D-list to the C-list, and maybe even beyond that.
Who’s your reality TV role model (or anti-role model)? Comments welcome…
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